Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

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With just a few days left to the holidays, I know everyone is baking cookies, shopping for gifts, getting the house ready for guests...it's a very busy time for all of us. I thought you might like a low cost 'gift' idea and a quick, easy recipe.

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Regardless whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, with so many of us unemployed or under employed, it's a good time to remember - It really is the thought that counts when it comes to gifts. A gift from the heart is worth far more than twenty so-so gifts purchased with no real thought.

With that in mind, I thought this gift idea I found at flylady.com (a great site to help keep you organized) was just fantastic and original. You can also check www.housefairy.org for other games and gift ideas.

It's called happy socks and it uses those lonely little socks that lose their mates. The ones we keep because we know there's another one like it even if we can't find it. Well, sometimes it pays to just give up and make the socks happy with a new purpose. Or, since socks aren't terribly expensive, buy a pack and use them to do this gift. Everyone can use socks after all. :-)

This is meant for children but I can see it used for husbands or wives or other special people in your life. You'd just have to change a few things.

HAPPY SOCKS!
Make a list of personal compliments for the person who will get a small collection of odd socks. Fill each sock with a dollar (or denomination of your choice) along with a compliment and a piece of candy and put the collection into a see-through jar or zip-lock bag. Include the poem below.

Here are the steps to make the Happy Socks.

1.Gather supplies*
2.Take the time to think up compliments for the person getting the gift. It's fun to do and so fun for the complimentee, especially children as they are little compliment sopping sponges.**
3.Fill the socks and put into container of choice
4.Print the poem and tape on outside or place inside to be read through the container.***
5.Wrap

*Supplies
1.See-through container like a zip-lock bag or a jar (quart-size for children's odd socks, gallon-size for adult odd socks)
2.Ten odd socks
3.Ten notes with a compliment in each
4.Ten small treats (anything that will fit in a sock and fit through the opening of the container)
5.Cash for each sock (decide the amount of money you are going to give and get cash in various denominations

**Here are some ideas for compliments for children, just to get you started:

You are happy most of the time and that helps people around you to be happy too.
You are such a good sport and no matter what sport you play, your team will love you.
You have very good manners at the table.
You do not interrupt others when it's their turn to talk.
You are kind to your brother.
You are excellent at following the rules and obeying the law.
You can laugh at yourself and take teasing in fun, without getting your feelings hurt.

***The Poem
This jar could be filled with sadness
For each sock has lost its mate
But these odd socks are happy
And they can hardly wait
For you to look inside them
For the treasures that they hold
Among the small surprises
There is cash that you can fold
And you'll also find a special note
And a sweet for you to eat
Yes, these socks are happy
They're not filled with smelly feet

You can also use an egg carton and have the first two lines of the poem read:
This carton of socks could be very sad
For each one has lost its mate

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And for your house guests or to giveaway when you go visiting, here's a fast, simple recipe I found (and everyone who's tasted it loves it!)


Yummy Cracker Snacks (they're really more like a cookie) Courtesy of Taste Of Home

Ingredients
96 butter-flavored crackers
1 cup creamy Jif® Peanut Butter
1 cup marshmallow creme
2 pounds milk chocolate candy coating, melted
Holiday sprinkles, optional

Directions

Spread half of the crackers with peanut butter. Spread remaining crackers with marshmallow creme; place creme side down over peanut butter crackers, forming a sandwich.

Dip sandwiches in melted candy coating, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined pans; refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set. If desired, drizzle with additional candy coating and decorate with sprinkles. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 4 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 170 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 89 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein.

We'll be back in the New Year with more interviews, book reviews, guest blogs and updates on the releases of our own books. It'll be a great year and I'm looking forward to seeing all of you back here with us.

In the meanwhile, I hope each of you has a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year. -- Lynda

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview Extended Edition 2009




Way back in January we touched base with Dianna Love, who was looking forward to teaching writers how to Break Into Fiction (the book came out June 18th). Plus she’d started co-authoring a series with Sherrilyn Kenyon. WHISPERED LIES (book 2) came out in May! If she’s not signing or writing, she’s helping book groups get new titles! To date authors all over the country have donated 500 books (8 copies of a title at a time) since the inception of her program in 2008.





Rachel Vincent just turned in ALPHA, and learned two of her earlier “were” titles (STRAY and PRIDE) are being reprinted. Leading up to Christmas, she’ll be finishing edits on MY SOUL TO KEEP, the 3rd book in her new Soul series. Since February MY SOUL TO TAKE and MY SOUL TO SAVE (as well as the e-book MY SOUL TO LOSE) have hit shelves. ABC’s show 20/20 featured a story about “real life” vampires and her novel got a close up!




March meant DOMINIC by Elizabeth Amber had just hit shelves. DANE, the next Satyr lord, will make his debut in June 2010!










Want to know who beat out Nora Roberts and Meljean Brooks for The Romance Studio’s Favorite 5 Heart Review? None other than our spotlight author for April…Samantha Kane. She took that honor with PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM. Since we chatted in the spring, Samantha’s anthology, AGED TO PERFECTION, and the sixth book in the Brothers in Arms series, LOVE IN EXILE, has hit the web in time to make someone’s Christmas extra steamy!





Lisa Shearin shared insight into her magical series for ACE as well as her love for fencing in May. In the last week, she’s signed another two book deal to pen Raine’s 5th and 6th adventures! If you’re on pins and needles for the next novel, the bad news is that you’ll have to wait until April 2010. While you wait, you can pick up her latest article, “Building a Story Arc in Your Novel”, in The Writer Magazine’s December issue.





Not only did Jacquelyn Frank reveal behind the scene secrets of her Nightwalkers, but also introduced us to her Shadowdwellers. Her second series started with RAPTURE right after her interview in June and continued in August with PLEASURE. January 2010 will mark another turning point in her career when HUNTING JULIAN launches her Gatherers series!





In July, Jeri Smith-Ready told us about her new series which kicks off with SHADE in May 2010. As of Monday, she’d met her latest deadline so she could relax for the holidays! Plus Jeri announced Pocket Book had bought two more Ciara Griffin/WVMP Radio urban fantasies. BRING ON THE NIGHT (book 3 in the series) will be on shelves August 2010. If you’re hungry for more, check out her Kindle release, THE WILD’S CALL, as well as the e-books for her Crow series.




If you’re looking for something extra cool for Christmas, check out Rachel Caine’s custom designed Amelie bracelets. Since August FADE OUT and MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES, which hit the NY Times bestseller list for two weeks in a row, made their appearances! UNKNOWN, her latest Outcast novel, will show up on shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day 2010.






Susan Kearney had also just kicked off her newest series, The Pendragon Legacy, in September when she took time out to chat with us. RION (book 2) just landed in stores December 1st. If you’ve snapped it up for Christmas, stay on the looked out for the next novel, JORDAN, as a Valentine’s gift for your sci-fi fan!







Since October, Linnea Sinclair announced HOPE’S FOLLY had been awarded the Paranormal Romance Staff Top Pick for April 2009 and was an RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee. SHADES OF DARK won the PRISM Contest for Best Futuristic and has also been awarded the Best of the Year for Science Fiction Romance by reviewers at Romance Reviews Today. Her next sci-fi creation, REBELS AND LOVERS, will materialize in March 2010.





Kristin Cast, who co-writes with her mother P.C. Cast, shared her insight behind the House of Night in November. They’ve done a slew of impressive interviews this year, and even have a box set out for the first four books in the series. Their latest, TEMPTED, has been out a month and BURNED won’t land in stores until April 2010. If you’re looking for something to tide you over, check out P.C.’s DIVINE BY BLOOD or the latest in her YA Partholon series, ELPHAME’S CHOICE.







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Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review - Confessions of a Demon

Confessions of a Demon
by S.L. Wright
Roc
December 1, 2009
Urban Fantasy

After accidentally stealing the life force from a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Because demons feed off of human emotions, Allay decided the safest way to live as a demon and still retain some semblance of humanity would be to open a bar and drink from her patrons' pain and torment. And she's managed to stay under the demon radar — until now.

Attacked and nearly killed by another demon, Allay is saved by a human who comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal — and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But their relationship is cut short when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie...


I didn't quite know what to expect when Ms Wright asked if I'd like to review her urban fantasy, Confessions of a Demon, but I love to read and fantasy is one of my favorite genres. So I put aside a biography I'd borrowed and, literally, fell into the world created by Ms Wright.

Demons as psychic vampires? What a fantastic, original idea! This book is peopled with demons named after their emotion of choice -- Allay, of course, is the heroine, Then there's Vex, Dread, Revel, Shock, Lash and Crave...among others.

Even Allay, who struggles to retain her lost humanity, demonstrates her 'demonic' needs. She siphons off the emotions of her bar patrons as a form of sustenance but, in order to remain immortal -- and alive -- she must take the life force of another demon. Soon. The problem? Drinking in the life force of another demon feels too much like cannibalism and she can't bring herself to do it. That's her humanity asserting itself.

Her humanity asserts itself, too, when she meets Theo Ram, a handsome, mysterious human who saves her life and seems to want nothing more than to form a lasting emotional bond with Allay. The only real problem, and why she's not successful at driving him away, is that she's falling in love with him. Involving a fragile human in demon affairs is dangerous for Theo...and for her.

I found the naming a unique way to add characterization to the characters in the book.No, the demon's aren't good guys, not as we define them, but they're not truly bad guys either. They're very much like humans with their own wants, needs and ambitions. Even the premise of Confessions of a Demon is evocative, unique and refreshing since the 'demons' aren't agents of the devil or at war with God. They're simply a different life form with customs and traditions and biology all their own.

My only quibble, and it's very minor, is the book feels like a sequel or maybe the second book in a series because there's a lot of very interesting back story (how Allay is created, how she learns to survive) that's hinted at. I couldn't find evidence of a prequel, and while this book is definitely readable without one, I'd like to see more of how Allay came into being. Perhaps future books will give us more glimpses into Allay's past.

I definitely want to read more about Allay and Ram and Shock and others in this world. If you like urban fantasy, I think you'll love Confessions of a Demon. I know I did and I can't wait for another book in this universe.

Guest - S. L. Wright

Good morning, everyone! Today's guest is a fantastic author and a very patient guest :-) S.L. Wright has lived in New York City for over twenty years, exploring every part of the city from rooftops to underground tunnels. She moved to Manhattan to get her masters degree in Fine Arts, and not long afterwards met her husband, Kelly Beaton. Together they have spent the past decade restoring a big brick house on the edge of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Wright is an activist at heart, saving wild cats in the city as well as helping people who are persecuted for their personal choices. www.susanwright.info

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Psychic Vampires
by S.L. Wright

Have you ever met someone who is so highly emotional that it sweeps you up whenever you're around them? They're perpetually nervous, or relentlessly negative, or way too hyper? If you're lucky, they're very happy, spreading joy wherever they go. These people seem to feed off the energy they create around them, growing stronger from it, and in some cases they suck the life out of everyone else in the process.

After mulling it over for a while, I realized these people are psychic vampires, feeding off the energy of other people. They manipulate everyone around them into reacting the way they want. The negative people get the most attention, but I think altruism has its own intrinsic reward for some people. I know it might sound cynical, but they're getting positive energy out of giving.

After all, survival of the fittest demands that biologically we get something from everything we do. Why expend energy if you're not getting it back?

Psychic vampires are true parasites. They live off others. What if these people are living among us, their sole goal to provoke the emotions they crave the most? What if they're the vampires, in the most real sense? Not the blood-sucking metaphor, but as creatures who survive off the living.

And what would happen when these two worlds clashed and the psychic vampires were discovered?

That's how I "found" my heroine Allay, a woman with one foot in each world. It was the first time in my writing career that a character came from such philosophical musings, especially questions that I didn't have the answers for yet. Allay sprang out fully alive: a human who became possessed by a demon, thereby becoming a demon herself. She no longer eats or sleeps, her only sustenance is human emotion which she steals with a touch.

I guess it was inevitable that more questions followed. How did Allay reconcile her human past with her demon needs? How can she fall in love when she has to live a lie? What kind of life can she create for herself?

I was particularly interested in how she could form relationships with people if she had to hide so much of who she was. It seemed like it would be impossible. I know some people live double lives, but I've never understood how they can compartmentalize everything and wall parts of themselves away. That inner tension of living off emotions, yet never fully being able to express what you really feel, seemed like the most tortuous kind of existence.

I had to find out. So that's why I wrote CONFESSIONS OF A DEMON.

One thing it's made me consider is what kind of psychic vampire I am. I like to think I provoke a feeling of comfort in people — I'm a people-pleaser, no doubt about it. But how other people view me may not necessarily be what I think. Maybe I provoke anxiety in people because of my perfectionism. Or maybe I'm so intense that people withdraw. If I keep asking questions, maybe I'll figure it out someday.

What kind of psychic vampire are you? I'll give away a free copy of CONFESSIONS OF A DEMON to the commenter who comes up with an emotion that I haven't considered (answer by Friday to be considered for this contest). I'll announce the winner on my blog, and I may even use you as inspiration when I create a new demon character for my series. So tell me, what kind of emotion do you crave?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Confessions of a Demon
by S.L. Wright
Roc
December 1, 2009
Urban Fantasy

After accidentally stealing the life force from a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Because demons feed off of human emotions, Allay decided the safest way to live as a demon and still retain some semblance of humanity would be to open a bar and drink from her patrons' pain and torment. And she's managed to stay under the demon radar—until now.

Attacked and nearly killed by another demon, Allay is saved by a human who comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal—and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But their relationship is cut short when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie…



Excerpt:

Confessions of a Demon
by S.L. Wright

It was the usual Friday night at the Den on C, the neighborhood bar in New York City I had managed for almost a decade. That was a long time by human standards, but then again, I wasn’t a standard human. I was something more—or less. The jury was still out on that one.

A group of pool-playing coeds had stopped by after hanging out at the beer garden in the East Village, but they were starting to trickle away as the midnight rush eased off. Some would end up in the chic bars popping up just to the south on the Lower East Side, leaving behind the regulars; mostly older Latino men and a smattering of working-class guys covered in ghostly drywall dust. A few crowded tables of arty hipsters still filled the back, where everyone was loudly talking over one another.

I swung open the front door wide to catch the mild night air of early spring, trying to ignore the metallic tang of exhaust. A few streets below Houston was Delancey Street, where the lights were much brighter and the avenue opened up wide to accommodate the steady flow of cars over the Williamsburg Bridge. The congestion always got worse late Friday night, choking the streets with fumes and honking horns as too many people tried to get in and out of Manhattan at the same time.

I could see my own reflection in the narrow glass pane; the light from the aluminum shade overhead cast a speckled pattern across my face. Wisps of dark hair touched my forehead, cheeks, and neck. I had tried to stay faithful to my original, human appearance, a heart-shaped face that was pretty enough, capable looking rather than delicate. I had aged myself over the years to look like I should — twenty-eight this spring.

Behind me, the opening strains of “Kiss Me,” the original version by Six Pence None the Richer, with its tinny drums and silly, sweet vocals, came through the speakers hanging high in the corners. I knew the words by heart: “Kiss me, beneath the milky twilight. Lead me out on the moonlit floor. . . .”

It lifted my heart for a moment, like the song always had ever since the year I’d been turned. But that touch of minor key, the slight note of sadness, resonated much deeper than it should have. It meant so much more to me—all that I had lost; all that I would never be.

I knew better than to try to ignore my regret. That made it worse. The pain that came with the past was something I just had to endure.

Since I became a demon.

Possessed” is the correct term, I reminded myself. I’m possessed by a demon.

I was a human-demon hybrid, the only one alive. No longer sustained by food or drink, I lived off emotions — any would do, but my preferred elixir, the feeling I’d do anything to provoke, was the simple yet all-powerful feeling of respite: relief from sorrow or pain. That was why I was known as Allay.

Plenty of people came to my bar looking for a little release from their pain. I provided all of the usual services bartenders typically gave their patrons: I served them drinks and listened to them when no one else would. And when it was really bad, I would pat their hand and steal away some of their pain. But taking energy from people, even the bad feelings, caused an imbalance in their system. I took only enough to make them feel better, and then for my reward I would sip a drop of their brief contentment.

I had to be careful not to go too far for their own good. When people were drained of their emotional energy, they could turn schizophrenic, manic, or so depressed they killed themselves. Some people became physically ill and died.

I wasn’t sure, but I thought emotions were the seat of the soul. That was why they radiated so much energy.

But how can you recognize a soul when you don’t have one?

www.susanwright.info
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-- Lynda again, Fantastic article! Thanks so much for being with us today. I hope all our readers leave a comment with an emotion they think you could use in future books (and make sure you leave your email address so Ms. Wright can contact you too) It's a fabulous book. Do check out my review when it goes live.

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Just a note - Bad news and Good news

I wanted to explain in a separate note why I've been kind of spotty here lately. Back in September, my home pc's were hit by a virus and it took a week to find software that would get it off my hard drives. Mind you, I got hit even though I have a complete up-to-date McAfee Virus Scan, Firewall and other Privacy programs. McAfee didn't see it coming, didn't stop it and didn't find it even after it was resident on the hard drive. I finally found a way, after much frustration, to remove the sucker and that was with a freebie called Malware Bytes.

Then two weeks ago, I got hit again. Hard. It sort of looks like the same virus I had previously but I think, this time, it has a piggy back bug riding right onto my machines. Again, McAfee was useless (and, yeah, I think they've seen the last $ from me). This time though the viruses may have damaged my hard drives. I've worked with computers for years and haven't ever found one where even *I* couldn't get rid of it. Right now, I've got my laptop in the shop (keep your fingers crossed they're able to repair/correct the problems) and I'm using my employers pc (with their permission).

I want to apologize to all our readers and to our guest, S. L. Wright, who was originally scheduled for last week, and whose article I'll post shortly. I'll also post a review of her book, Confessions of a Demon, shortly.

As to the jerks who purposely write these viruses...karma can be a bee-aitch with very big teeth.

Now, the good news...I got the rough copy of the new cover for Heartstone and it's Fabulous! As soon as I get the final version, I'll post it for all to see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Custom-ized

As the yule-tide grows near, I'm interested if you have any customs that you've developed over the years to celebrate Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa).

This year Secret Santa seems to be a popular gifting option, though some like the hoopla of Chinese gift exchanges (aka Dirty Santa). Some people celebrate Christmas on the Eve, the day, and sometimes even afterwards. When I was younger my mom often let me open one gift on Christmas Eve during the gift exchange with family who had other plans for Christmas Day. I still remember packing up all my gifts to take to my grandparents to show them what magical do-dads jolly old St Nick had brought. (This includes the original Optimus Prime my husband now swears is half his.)

Some people attend Christmas Eve services at their church, or even hanging of the greens prior to the usual Christmas cantatas. I fondly remember singing as a young girl and tween in programs at a couple churches, as well as caroling in the cold night air at elderly homes and friends houses. I miss those days, when it didn't matter if you were off pitch and people weren't afraid to open their doors.

I think these happenings, which remind us of years past, can often embellish author's stories. Sometimes they're lifted from memories, and other times the real occurrence is tweaked to fit an idea for a book. I find it enchanting to come up with ideas for family customs, which can not only give backstory, but also lead to character clues. In fact, in my brainstorming for a Christmas novel, I thought what if the person who always put up the tree or the lights wasn't around anymore? Would someone new fill those shoes, or would their friend/partner be left void of those Christmas icons used to celebrate the season? And thus lose a bit of hope or cheer.

It's also interesting to think of what gifts a character might give. Are they a jokester who likes to "gag" others, are they sentimental enough to remember something from months ago, or do they go high class and opt for the must give gift of the year? All these little things say something about a character, and as such can be a metaphor for his/her change.

As I sat in the pew at my first Moravian Love Feast, thanks to a friend's invitation, I was struck by the message of love and the opportunity each of us has to share our light with the world. Imagine that as a sign of someone caring for another, even if it's in a romantic sense. Can you see the close bonds forming as they break bread, sing carols, sip sweet coffee, and lift up their hearts to the Lord during a candle ceremony? Very power stuff, and a terrific opportunity for a change of heart. I'm not saying it would thaw Scrooge, but for someone who has been cast out to celebrate alone, that time of togetherness with a friend could be what shows them the power of the season.

So when you celebrate, or hear others talking of what they did over the holiday, tuck that little tidbit away because it might come in handy to add that little extra spice of life.




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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Write or Die

You know that little someone on your shoulder who whispers in your ear it's time to get to work? Sometimes it's a little angel, sometimes a little devil...and this time of year it might even be a child whispering gift ideas. Or perhaps they gave you a list to add to your things to do for a day, a week, or until Christmas. This time of year hectic is a given.

Perhaps you give yourself little reminders thanks to Microsoft Outlook or another calendar program to try to salvage your writing schedule. Today I learned about something that can even top the Tasks function. It's a program that prompts you as nicely or devilishly as you'd like to get cracking on that word count! Need someone to snap the whip to get you into action? Need to meet a deadline that you don't see how you'll make?


Check out Write or Die! You make a few choices to set how long you want to write between 10 minutes to 2 hours, how many words you're aiming for, and then choose your "punishment" which goes all the way to kamakazie and electric shock! If you're leery of being berated, you can also set a grace period for more breathing time. Just be sure to click pause if you need to step away from the computer or your text won't be there when you get back. The screen will turn pink, then get a darker red the longer you wait to get those words on the page, then they really will be gone!

You can either use the online version or pay $10 for the download to use the taskmaster offline....in case you can't stay away from Facebook or those new e-mails in your inbox. The man who created the program was nice enough to remind you to save your work :0) On the online version you can either copy what you've written on the supplied "paper" or click done, then copy it from the summary page.

I had a great time trying this out, and even came up with a grainy idea for an original Christmas fantasy. Hmmm....the wheels are spinning in my head. Now all I have to do is carve out a little time (maybe even pencil it in on my to-do list) then log into this program to keep me writing up a storm. It's amazing what I got done in 10 minutes for this test!

It's amazing what you can learn when you gather in a gaggle of writers. I got this tip from Chloe Harris, who you guessed it, is trying to write on schedule for a deadline. With Write or Die loaded on her computer, I don't think she'll have a choice other than getting those words down!




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Friday, November 27, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Kristin Cast


At 19, Kristin Cast found herself as part of a duo (with her mom, P.C. Cast) that had a NY Times and USA Today Bestselling series on their hands with The House of Night.  Since the kick start of the series, Kristin has embarked on her college career at the University of Tulsa as a Communications major. She's also won several awards, had the chance to write for anthologies like IMMORTAL: LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, and has editorial credits to her name. In her down time she's working to make her dream of creating a no-kill dog rescue/shelter in Tulsa a reality.

If you're interested in learning more about Kristin, her mom, or The House of Night check out http://pccast.net and  http://houseofnightseries.com!


I've had the pleasure of meeting P.C. Cast a couple of times, and each time I got to hear plenty of anecdotes about Kristin. In Atlanta, Kristin couldn't make it due to school, but as a consolation Gena Showalter filled in. The duo has come a long way since then, and I'd love the chance to meet Kristin in the future. If her sense of humor is anything like P.C.'s, I think a presentation by them would be top-notch. 

Back then, MARKED was about to hit shelves, and now The House of Night has got a following to match even the biggest "vampire" series. I believe having Kristin on the ground floor to plan and "fact check" the series is the reason it strikes a chord with tweens, teens and possibly even twenty somethings everywhere. By the growing number of titles, as well as media types available, it's clear to see that P.C. and Kristin aren't giving up without a fight in the sea of vamp novels. Plucky is an understatement for P.C., and from what I've heard Kristin is a chip off the block!  With publishing credits of her own, I think Kristin has a bright future as an author indeed!


Since MARKED hit shelves and started the House of Night following, do you think the upsurge in vampire novels have helped or hurt the series popularity? 

There have always been a plethora of vamp novels and I am a firm believer that the success of others can only help my mom and me.




What makes your fans different?

I think that are fans are beyond loyal! They span a wide age range: from about 11 years old to grandparents. Also, because our novels empower women I like to believe that our fan base is composed of strong, independent ladies.



As part of a collaborative team, what founding piece of info--boarding "school", rules, characters, etc.--did you insist had to be included? 

Well Mom and I pretty much agreed on this, but my main thing is that they have to be real. The books must depict high school life and teenage behavior accurately and I'm happy that we've accomplished that.



When the intensity shifted in CHOSEN, did you have a particular subplot you enjoyed setting up for future releases? Overall, do you and your mom have an overarching plotline to weave multiple elements into that keeps you on track?

Because I serve as mainly an editor, I don't know the overarching plot line or subplots. I normally don't see the book until it's complete, but I know that Mom has an ending planned for the series and I'm so not going to tell you what it is! Heehee!


If you hadn't ended up being instrumental in the creation of MARKED and House of Night, would you have become an author? Is there something else you'd rather be doing or a hobby you enjoy when you aren't "fact checking" your mom?

I probably would have never become as involved in the writing field as I am now.

Currently, I am in school and when I graduate next year I will be opening a no kill dog shelter in Tulsa. That's what I'm really passionate about doing. I've also recently gotten really involved in editing and am really excited about the 2010 release of a YA that I helped to edit by the amazingly talented Jana Oliver.


Out of all your travels and signings, is there any one moment that stands out from the rest? And when you sign do you have any must-haves--chocolate, bottled water, M&Ms?

On our TEMPTED tour when we were signing in Maryland I got really car sick and I know that I was a super weird green color and no fun at all but there was a cutie straight male fan (who are normally nervous to come to our signings but we heart us some male readers!!) who came up to me and was all shaky and he kept telling me how beautiful I am in person! We took a picture together and he totally made my night and made me feel better! Thank you cutie male fan!!!

My only diva must have thing is unsweetened, black iced tea. Gotta have it!!!!


With a slew of tasty morsels available at Thanksgiving what is your favorite comfort food?

STUFFING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will eat stuffing everyday. It's one of the only things that I can actually cook. Ha!

Recall that one lucky person who comments or asks a question below will win a copy of TEMPTED! If you don't have an e-mail associated with your profile or blog, please include you addie so we can contact you!





Monday, November 23, 2009

Guest - Judi Fennell

Good morning everyone! We have a great article about world building from Judi Fennell who has, as we all know, created a fantastic world both on land and in the water. Make sure you read all the way to the Lynda Again section for a special offer.

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Thanks so much for having me back to chat about the second book in my Mer series, Wild Blue Under. In In Over Her Head, Erica, a Human who’s afraid of the ocean finds herself in it at gunpoint. Then she gets shot, a shark arrives, she gets rescued by sexy Merman Reel, and off they go to find the diamonds, defeat the sea monster and live happily ever after. A Human-in-the-sea story.

Wild Blue Under, however, is the classic (and literal) fish-out-of-water story. Merman Rod, Heir to the throne, must come onto land to retrieve the lost half-Mer princess who lives in Kansas and doesn’t have a clue that she’s A) a princess, B) lost, and C) half-Mer. She thinks she’s allergic to the ocean.

Readers have embraced my undersea world, but now we’re on land. Will they embrace this one? But wait—the books are about a Mer world and yet it’s on land? What world am I creating in Kansas?

World-building isn’t just topography and buildings. It’s the rules of the world, its inhabitants, their situations, and their history.

So, for this story, I added some busybody sparrows who have a feather in saving the day, a mercenary albatross who isn’t quite what he seems, some dive-bombing peregrines, a murder of crows—in every sense of that phrase—and a bad guy who might just have reason. And many of the characters from In Over Her Head show up—not on land, of course—because what would a Mer story be without the sea?

When I wrote Wild Blue Under, I purposely set out not to write the same story I’d already done because how many times can you have a Human end up in the ocean, discover Mers and Atlantis, and make their reaction fresh and new? Most would freak out then find it interesting, so I covered that in the first book. Therefore, I had to change the venue. Voila! The Mer heads to land. And now I get to see another side of their world.

I had no idea when I wrote In Over Her Head that Mers had an Air Security Agency. If I’d thought about it, I probably would have, but it wasn’t a necessary element then. Wild Blue Under? Whole different story. (Pun intended.)

Did I know there’s a special oil from the gods for Mers who go on land to keep their legs for more than the two-sunset stipulation I’d already created? Nope. Not until I got to the point that Rod needed it and a little birdy whispered in my ear—probably Maybelle. She knew a lot about the story that I didn’t, including her existence. I remember when her introduction just appeared on my screen. I had no idea what her purpose was, who she was, or why she was there. I kept writing, though, and allowed her her vignettes. Then, all of a sudden, there was her purpose. She’d known it all along and, yes, she did crow about it when it finally happened.
Here’s a little snippet from Maybelle:

“Hello, boys.” Maybelle tried to put as much tail action into her swagger as her sparrow’s body would allow. At times like this, she wouldn’t mind being as svelte as those doves who had come in from out of town last year for a Human wedding.

The cowbirds stopped pacing along the church’s verdigris roof. “Ma’am?”

She hated that. Made her feel like someone’s doting old auntie.

“Oh, please,” she twittered, affecting the same pose she’d seen that pristine (prissy, actually) dove do that had gotten all the males fluttering after her. “Do call me Maybelle.” She added a little blinking action, going for the dumb and wide-eyed look—also courtesy of that dove.
Either she’d done it right, or these cowbirds hadn’t seen a female in, like, forever. One of the cow-boys strutted past her, leaving the package he’d been guarding unattended.
Success.

“Hello there, Maybelle,” said the avian, “you’re looking quite pretty. Did you just molt?”

Maybelle restrained herself from laughing. Molt. Sheesh. No wonder this guy was ripe for her ploy—no way was he getting any action with that line.

But she played along, hoping the other would find her just as irresistible.

Oh, not for anything remotely physical. No, she needed the cowbirds distracted from the bags of metal tacks they were guarding so Adele could switch them out with the replacement washers and nuts they’d collected. She knew what sharp metal would do to car tires. Valerie and the Mer prince didn’t deserve that and the albatross didn’t deserve to win.

And wouldn’t she be the heroine when the girls on the park bench heard about this? They’d be a-twitter for seasons to come.

© Judi Fennell, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009

You can see excerpts and deleted scenes, as well as register to win one of my two remaining Romantic Beach Getaway Weekends on my website, www.JudiFennell.com.

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-- Lynda Again,
Judi and Sourcebooks, her publisher, have generously offered TWO prizes for our readers. To qualify, leave a comment AND send me an email lyndak.scott@gmail.com with 1) Wild Blue Under in the subject line 2) and your name and address in the body of the email by Friday. Sorry, the contest is open only to those who live in the USA or Canada. I'll announce the winners then. Good luck to all!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview Special Edition


We'll be having a special edition of the Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview on Wednesday, November 25th. Now I bet you're wondering who our guest will be! None other than half of the House of Night duo...Kristin Cast! If you're into vampyres, warriors, priestesses; boarding school series; or urban fantasy, then stop by for a chance to win one of their novels!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review - Wild Blue Under

Wild Blue Under
By
Judi Fennell
November 2009
Sourcebooks, Casablanca

Wild Blue Under is the second book in Judi Fennell’s fantastic series with the hottie Mer prince, Rod Tritone, coming ashore to find love. Not that he was looking for love in Kansas. No, he was there on Council business – to bring back half-Mer Valerie Dumere and satisfy the Prophecy ‘to find that which is lost’. Valerie is convinced that she’s allergic to salt water, ie the ocean. And she’s not going anywhere near the ocean. That’s why she has her nautical gift shop located in the middle of Kansas.

But the gift shop is broke and she desperately needs the inheritance Rod promises her to keep it going. So, with a great deal of trepidation, Valerie sets off with Rod and a most peculiar seagull, toward the east coast.

Neither of them realize that forces have combined to keep them, especially Rod, away from the ocean though it becomes obvious that something is happening as Valerie’s car is pelted with fish and assorted ‘guided missiles’ from the air. When they finally make it to the ocean, Rod faces another, even greater, problem. He’s fallen in love with a woman who’s afraid of the sea.

Wild Blue Under is even better than the delightful In Over Her Head. The situations are both comical, endearing and heart pounding as Rod and Valerie travel the width of the United States and in doing so, learn to love each other. Ms. Fennell has created a believable and imaginative world of eco-friendly Mer people and sentient animal and avian life, but she’s also explored the question – How far will you go to keep the love of your life?

Rod and Valerie will answer that question for you.

Make sure you read the book to discover the answer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest - Janet Lane Walters

Good morning, everyone! We had an interesting day yesterday...a day without electricity! I found and burned a multitude of candles, got the flashlights out and the old emergency crank radio so we'd have something to listen to other than the creak of an empty house, lol. Then I indulged in my favorite past time - reading!

But you don't care about that, LOL. You want to know who we have visiting us today. Today's guest is multipublished author, Janet Lane Walters. Ms. Walters has a very interesting article on using the senses in our writing. And she's offering a giveaway, so read to the end to find out how you can win.

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Using the Senses

During the past few months, I've been busy judging writing contests and one thing I've noted is the absence of senses in other than a pedestrian way. In the world of fantasy, a writer faces an additional challenge. I'm not speaking of the sixth sense. That would take an entire article. The usual five senses are the ones I find either missing or being glossed over. Sight, Sound, taste, smell and touch can be used to bring a person, an object or place come alive.

When a writer of fantasy uses other than sight or sound when describing their world they face a challenge. Sight and sound are easy but there can be a missed opportunity here. Let's look at an example or two of the way senses are used in a fantasy.

Sound
His voice sounded mean. While this evokes a picture, how much more does this sentence show the reader what the writer means. His steely tones sliced her composure. Or this rendition. Like icicles, his words stabbed.

She heard footsteps. That's okay but Scuffling sounds on the concrete raises a different and more visit picture.

Sight
Clouds drifted across the sky. Try this. Like the sails of phantom ships, clouds sailed the sea colored sky.

He had a large nose. Or. His nose protruded with the sharpness of a hawk's beak.

Taste
Now this is a difficult thing to take from one world to another. One way is to coin words to convey the taste.

She tasted the kafene and wrinkled her nose at the bitter taste. Why did the aroma seem more tempting that the flavor. The word kafene evokes coffee.

I once coined a word for one of my books as a spice called gingar to show the flavor was a combination of ginger and garlic.

Smells
Here a fantasy writer can run into problems or not. For example if the animals are used, even if they have a different name are like the ones in this world the aromas surrounding them would remain the same. I used coursers for horses in one of my books but retained the smells surrounding them.

But I was jolted out of a read when an author described a flower as resembling the lacy wings of a butterfly and smelled like roses. My head yelled. "If they smell like roses, there must be roses on this world so why not just have roses."

Touch
I think this is one of the neglected senses except when one is writing love scenes. Woolen shirts, leather breeches all feel different on the skin. Touching an other world creature also would have a specific sort of touch.

While these examples are short and sweet, using the senses is often neglected, even by me, a writer has to think of the senses when writing for this brings the story to life. Using the senses can lure the reader into any world you choose to create.




Blurb
We’ve been betrayed." Those words spoken by the Dom and Doma of the Wesren henge awaken their four children—two sets of male-female twins.

Each child has an affinity for one of the four elements—earth, air, fire and earth. In secret, the young teens flee their home to seek a place of safety and teachers to hone their control. They use their emerging talents in ways they never imagined.

Will their quest succeed or will they become pawns of He Who Walks In Darkness?
This book is part 1 of the The Henge Betrayed series

Other books Fantasy only Coming Soon -- The Henge Betrayed -- Refuge. Available now from DiskUs Publishing The Jewels trilogy, The Quest For The White Jewel, The Brotherhood of Mages and The Secret of the Jewels All are suitable for YA or adults. Adults, The Temple of Fyre and The Dragons of Fyre.


Ms. Walters lives in the scenic Hudson Valley, across the river from Washington Irving's home. She's been published since 1968 but the call of a career as a nurse and the need to educate four children made writing a sporadic affair until she retired. Since then She's had nearly 30 books published ranging from YA fantasy, adult fantasy, romance from sweet to spicy, paranormal, mysteries and non fiction. She's finaled in the EPIC contest, won one with her writing buddy Jane Toombs for Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, and finaled twice in the Dream Realm awards. She has five grandchildren and enjoys being with them but writing is her passion.


Janet Lane Walters
Contact Information Eclectic writer http://www.bookswelove.net/walters.php http://www.angelfire.com/stars4/kswiesner/jewels10.html
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-- Lynda Again
Ms. Walters would like to give away either an ebook of any of her available fantasies or a print copy of those in print. To win a copy, leave a comment here AND email her at ShadyL717@aol.com by Friday. Good luck!

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